It happens every day somewhere in SPFHS. Twenty students sit under fluorescent lighting. Twenty multiple choice questions and an essay prompt burn holes in their eyes, as a pencil taps on a desk somewhere in the room.
Statistically, at least 38%, or eight out of twenty, of these students are suffering some form of test-specific anxiety; racing thoughts and distress making it near impossible to do as well on the test as hoped. Anxiety over a test is something every student will experience at some point in their life, and perhaps a little worry keeps egos in check, but when it becomes an all-encompassing fear, it becomes a problem.
Students are constantly reminded of high stakes tests. Freshmen in English classes prepare for PARCC, some students start their sophomore year of school with the PSAT. Juniors open the year talking about AP Tests, the SATs, and ACTs. Seniors are constantly bombarded with college preparation. The environment that students live in is one of monotonous pressure, which has more of an effect in the culture of anxiety than one might expect.
This anxiety over tests and their effects on grades and their effects on college and then parental expectations and then jobs and then the future and how basically a B+ means being a complete failure in life, is something a lot of students suffer from. This often results in an obsessive mentality of studying, worrying, and checking Power School constantly. But this shouldn’t take over your life. So without further ado, here are five ways to keep your anxiety in check.
It’s all about perspective. Remember to breathe. A test is just a test. A grade does not make a person.
Breathe. Take a moment to relax for a second. Keep everything in perspective, one test in twelfth grade isn’t going to affect your tax returns when you’re forty-three and your own kids are taking tests on To Kill a Mockingbird. Your grades aren’t who you are, and it’s one grade, in one class, in one year. Your own mental health is a thousand times more important than your grades. That’s something that’s hard to learn when you’re being bombarded with college tours, but the project you’re so stressed about isn’t the key to never ending life.
Time management is key – procrastination only adds more stress!
You’ll be a million times more stressed if you start your final project of the marking period at 11:59PM the day before it’s due. Trust me, this is coming from someone who wrote two thirds of a project during classes on the day it was due. Make a schedule and force yourself to follow it, in the end, it will turn out better in all aspects. If you have a structure to keep your work organized, it’ll be easier to get everything done in a reasonable time, getting rid of the stress of not having things done in time.
Sleeping and eating may sound like basic advice, but it’ll help.
Make time to sleep and eat. Having a snack while doing homework, taking a break from that science project to eat dinner with your family – these are all things that will help put that biology essay in perspective. Plus, you’ll keep your energy up. It may get hard to sleep at night when you can’t stop thinking, but if you can get at least into bed before midnight with all your homework done, you’ll feel much more confident on the test you were studying for. Even if you don’t have all your homework done, unwinding with a book or Instagram will help relax you and keep your physics final from taking over your life. Sleep is more important than you think. It’s often the first sacrifice you make for grades, but it’s not worth it. Six hours of sleep per night will make facing the day that much better.
Don’t judge yourself based off of what other people are doing. You’re not disappointing anyone!
This is one of the hardest mindsets to get out of, honestly. There are always going to be people out there judging you, and there are always going to be people who want to change who you are in order to fit you into their own conceptions of the world. But those people don’t define who you are. A huge part of worrying about grades is who you’ll disappoint if you don’t do well. Even if you are disappointing someone, there will always be someone else who’s twice as proud of you. Tell yourself that just because her grades are better than yours, doesn’t make her any more than you, because it’s true.
Grades do not define your entire future. Life, college, your dreams, they’re about more than what your GPA in tenth grade is.
Grades are given so much more power than they actually have on your life. David H. Murdock, a businessman worth $2.9 billion, dropped out of school in ninth grade and worked at a gas station before finding success. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and started a failed company called Traf-O-Data before he founded Microsoft. Your grades don’t define your future, and they don’t define you. Life will still be waiting for you after you turn in a project a day late. Promise.